Shoeshine boys debate job creation


[The job creators] have no intention of creating jobs now or in the future. They don’t have to create jobs and there’s nobody out there to make them do it. They simply will reduce the number of jobs they have now and grind the remaining employees, most of whom have no recourse any more, either to the government or to organized labor. The job creators thereupon will get rich not creating jobs, and they will continue to get rich not creating jobs, because creating jobs costs them money. Any politician who says anything else is lying to you.
Charles Pierce, in Esquire

Did I tell you about getting my shoes shined while working at the Curtis Center? A stocky guy, about 50, sneaked up with a battered shoeshine kit as I was sitting on a bench in Washington Square, eating my lunch and watching Colonial ghosts roll dice on the slate walkway. (Ghosts are everywhere if you’re in a ghostly frame of mind.)

The big guy asked for money and I gave him a bunch of change to get rid of him. The next thing I knew he was kneeling and smearing gunk on my shoes and rubbing it in with a brush.

— Whoa, don’t do that.

But he kept adding gunk and buffing and telling me my shoes were special, they needed special polish. He finished and I got up to go because he wouldn’t leave, and he started dissing me.

— You give me two bits for that shine. That ain’t shit.
— That was two bucks, not two bits. I didn’t even want a shoeshine. Who gets a shoeshine these days?

He told me he was trying to make a living, I could do better than two bits. He flashed a weary grin. I got in his face and pointed at the Curtis Center.

— You think I’ve got money because I’m dressed up? I’ve got a five-day job over there and that’s it, I’m as broke as you. The big corporations are screwing everybody. No unions, no long-term contracts, no benefits. They bleed you dry and blame you when there’s no more blood. It’s a new world, dude, open your eyes.
— It ain’t my world. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I decided to not give him more money until he acknowledged it’s a new world and we’re all screwed. I told him the company I was temping for was hugely profitable even though it made drugs with so many side effects you have to use five-point type to fit them on the same page.

But all I got was that smile — that ancient stupid stoicism that has kept the poor down forever — and the feeling that I was the jerk. So I gave the man five more dollars and slouched back to the Curtis Center, where I did my dirty job and didn’t make a peep.

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This entry was posted in economic collapse, Great Compression, life in the big city, mainstream media, Philadelphia, The New Depression, unemployment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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